Chapter 17

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As a great gust of wind blows inside the church, I shove Belle to the floor and hiss at her to hide.

"What are you–"

"Trust me, keep quiet!"

She scrambles under the punch table, hidden by the white cloth that flutters in the breeze.

I have no time to kick myself in the teeth (figuratively) for putting Belle in this position, only to slip on a poker face and get ready to approach the Southbend Bikers for the second time that week.

Connor leads the gang, a smug smile on his face that makes me scowl. I hate it when the leader of a crew looks down on everyone and everything as though they are perfect. A leader should be watching, calculating, and ready to get down to business. He should be smart, not smug. I am beginning to wonder why any of them ever let him take position as the leader of the most notorious crew in the city. Or at least it was the most notorious.

"Knight," Connor nods a greeting and sits down in the second pew from the front. I don't greet him, merely glare and cross my arms. There's the same crowd as yesterday morning; Billy and Todd, Sam, Donatello, Li and Mickey. I am a little relieved that I at least have some familiar faces. Bill and Todd won't let things get out of control. I beg the God really should still be in this room not to let them find Belle under the table. If she makes one sound, I know she'll be noticed.

"Get our note this morning?" he asks.

I roll my eyes. "You guys are idiots. All of you. Can we please cut the crap here and get down to business? It's a waste of my evening spending it here with you."

"Why are you dating a copper, Jess?" Billy speaks up. His usually composed face holds something more: disappointment.

I shrug. "He's a nice guy. Why do you care?"

"We care if he finds out what you know. I would have thought you'd care about that too."

Honestly, I can understand how this hurts Billy. For me to be dating one of the men whose job it is to take us down, I suppose he'd call it shameful. No one would understand my feelings for Nick. Well, no one here. They don't get that I actually like the guy.

Which is why I choose to lie to them.

"Look, if we're here to talk about my 'boyfriend'–" I use sarcastic quotation marks to emphasize my lack of affection for him, "then I should tell you, it's not all for pleasure."

Billy raises his eyebrows and I think he believes me.

Connor snorts. "Please, you're just trying to protect you reputation. I'm not fooled."

"Then I guess it doesn't matter that Nick told me the police have just found new evidence from the raid the other night. Seems to me like Travis could be facing a lot more than a few year's sentence."

Connor's lip twitches. It isn't a total lie; I overheard the Sarge talking about it on the phone when I was with Nick. He just didn't mention Travis. But they don't need to know that. And I figure if Connor likes power, me dating a cop will be more valuable to him than anyone actually anticipated.

"What are the charges?" asks Sam, his eyes wide.

I like that I know more than the bikers. It's satisfying to see them anxious for their gang member. Score one for Jess.

"Does it matter?" I ask, inspecting my nails casually. "What's done is done. Now what did you want to meet me here for? To ridicule me about my new love interest, or is there something more worthy of my time?"

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